It is Holiday Season again… not only are we scrambling to get our kids to recitals, practices, and Christmas school functions, we have work, shopping, holiday travel, parties, neighborhood parties, family and friends parties… that time of season when we shift to more fast food, large sit-down dinners and buffet tables. The good news: Americans only gain, on average, one pound from all the over indulgence during the holiday season. The bad news: We don’t lose it – ouch. No fear, we have tools and ways we can implement quite easily to help us thrive, feel good, and not gain that forever pound (or two or three).
1. Seven-a-day. Eat seven or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Make a pact to yourself to not to eat the crackers, desserts, and other delectables until you have eaten your seven servings. The additional fiber not only helps you detox and keeps the bowels regular, but fills you up faster than breads and other snacks. It is pretty easy to pack and carry apples, pears, carrots and celery sticks with you while shuffling kids, running errands, working. And if needed, bring to a holiday gig as a healthy alternative.
2. Move. Even the fittest of folk exercise less in December – a month where it can be paramount to keeping that pound (or two or three) off AND helping keep stress levels low. A good strategy is to simply park one’s car far away from our destination. We only require 20 minutes of exercise four times a week to lower stress and our risk of diabetes and heart disease. Studies have shown it can be broken up into even smaller segments. Fast walking to and fro shopping locales, recitals, parties can help you burn those extra calories consumed.
3. Don’t skip meals to save room at parties. Skipping meals will always lead to weight gain instead of loss and the holidays are no exception – it primes one for ultimate binge eating. At a minimum, have a snack before going. It is easier to walk past the temptations when one is not hungry/starving and you will be less inclined to overeat. Snacking before going shopping will make it easier to walk by the food court at the mall without stopping.
4. Bring a healthy dish. While you may not get the Martha Stewart award at the party, I guarantee many will be secretly thanking you for bringing a healthy dish to help balance out the not so healthy choices.
5. Small plates and/or portions. Help fool your brain by using a 12-inch (or smaller) plate to serve food. While eating, chew your food slowly – it is not only easier on your digestion and a way to avoid indigestion, but it take about 20 minutes for your brain to catch on you are full and send those signals to you. Another tool is to fill your plate first with the healthy food, and then choose the less healthy stuff.
6. Learn the “No” word. At gatherings, we tend to get pressured to eat more than we want. Learning how to say “No” politely will not only help you avoid weight gain, but also that over-full sick feeling that can also be accompanied by heartburn or indigestion.
7. Choose who you eat with wisely. Sitting next to a healthy eater will encourage you to eat healthy (and the converse is also true). Also, groups less than six tend to not overeat as much as larger groups. Be the last to sit down to eat and the second to stop eating. Another trick is to wait until all food is out on the table – we tend to eat more when it comes in courses.
8. Protein. More protein along with the fruits and vegetables are healthy choices and will help us deal with consuming sugar a bit easier (and actually help reduce the cravings for it). As always, it is a good idea to eat a protein – meat, cheese, yogurt, nuts – with all meals and snacks.
We wish you a fun-filled Christmas season that surrounds you with all the people you love and value. While the food is good, this time of year is really about spending time with those we care about. Party well but wisely. Blessings to you and yours and may 2013 bring you joy and wonderful health.
Renae Blanton, MSN, ANP is a Family Nurse Practitioner at Sonas Integrative Medical Center in Durango. She specializes in integrative family medicine with a focus on environmental issues such as lead toxicity, anti-aging, women’s health and chronic disease and illness. She can be reached at 970-247-2500 or www.sonasimc.com.